A second utility grid-scale battery energy storage facility is in the review pipeline at Riverhead Town Hall, with more sure to follow, according to town officials.
EC Battery Storage Project is a proposed 60 megawatt/120 megawatt-hour battery energy storage facility to be built on a 1.7-acre, industrially zoned site on the east side of Edwards Avenue along the LIRR track. It is located adjacent to a LIPA substation east of Edwards Avenue — a facility that has attracted the development of more than 600 acres of utility-scale solar power facilities in the vicinity.
The developer of the project is New York City-based Rhynland Energy in partnership with London-based global commodities trading firm Trafigura. The companies, under the name Edwards Calverton Battery Storage LLC, filed a site plan application in January and a final environmental analysis in February.
The first battery energy storage system to be publicly aired, Riverhead Energy — a 100-megawatt/200 megawatt-hour battery energy storage facility Mill Road just north of West Main Street — was discussed last Thursday afternoon by the Riverhead Planning Board.
In response to questions by Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar at last week’s Town Board work session Thursday morning, Building and Planning Administrator Jefferson Murphree acknowledged that two applications to site battery energy storage systems in Riverhead Town have been reviewed by the planning department.
Murphree, as the town’s zoning officer, issued denial letters to both applicants late last month, according to town records obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests. The denial letters state the the proposed use is not a use permitted by the town zoning code and advises the applicants that they can seek use variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
On the dates Murphree issued denial letters for both BESS applications the planning department also issued letters advising the applicants that the applications were incomplete.
The “incomplete application” notices details what the applicant must submit to the planning department for the site plan applications to be considered complete for review. The items listed in the letters include additional drawings, commissioning and decommissioning plans, fire safety compliance plans and sound studies — as well as ZBA variances from existing zoning code, starting with a use variance to establish a use that does not exist in the zoning code.
The Town Board is currently working on legislation to allow utility-scale battery energy storage system (known as “BESS”) facilities in certain zoning use districts by special permit of the Town Board. The board held a public hearing Aug. 16 on a draft code that would allow such facilities in the town’s Industrial A, Industrial C, Planned Industrial Park, Agricultural Protection, and Residence A-80 zoning use districts. The public comment period on the draft ends tomorrow.
BESS facilities, which take in energy from the electrical grid and store it for later use, are counterparts to renewable energy generation systems, such as the commercial solar energy production facilities sited in Calverton near an existing LIPA substation on Edwards Avenue.
Solar energy systems produce energy during the day when the sun is shining. Battery energy storage systems store the energy produced by solar facilities for use at other times. They are also used to store energy produced by windmills.
The battery energy storage facilities are widely viewed as essential to the sustainability and reliability of renewable energy and are considered a vital component of plans to achieve the state’s goals of transitioning away from fossil-fuel energy production, which add carbon and other greenhouse gases to the earth’s atmosphere.
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